Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Dying Earth

Most literary images of the Far Future are conveniently discussed as Science Fiction, but a significant group of fantasies are based on the premise that Magic entities and forces hypothetically removed from the Earth's past by Thinning might enjoy a spectacular resurgence in the senile world's "second childhood". Clark Ashton Smith switched his attention from the imaginary past of Hyperborea to the historical terminus of Zothique because the latter was better adapted to his fantasies of extreme Decadence. Earlier precedents had been set by William Hope Hodgson in The Night Land (1912) and other languorous accounts of the End of the World. Jack Vance's The Dying Earth (coll 1950) provided a milieu which he was to use extensively; it was borrowed by Michael Shea for A Quest for Simbilis (1974), and weakly imitated by Lin Carter in his World's End series. Other milieux of a similar stripe have been used by Robert Silverberg (> SFE link below) in the allegorical Son of Man (1971), by Michael Moorcock in the Dancers at the End of Time sequence and by Gene Wolfe in his New Sun and Long Sun sequences. [BS]

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.